Wildlife Viewing in Fairbanks

Exactly why is wildlife viewing so great in Fairbanks? Zoom out to our position on Google maps and you'll understand! It looks like someone took a bite out of the wilderness, then plopped the Fairbanks North Star Borough right down in the valley, right where the two rivers (the Chena River and the Tanana River) meet.

That surrounding wilderness is absolutely rich in wildlife. That's the point ~ we're right in the middle of wild Alaska!

These WhyFairbanks.com pages are full of fun and useful information to help you optimize your wildlife viewing in the wild of Interior Alaska.

  • Wildlife Viewing Tips and Hints
    These Alaska wildlife viewing tips will help to do watch Alaska wildlife in their natural habitat.
  • Essential Wildlife Viewing ToolKit:
    What to bring with you to make the most of every wildlife viewing opportunity..
  • How to Take Fantastic Wildlife Photos
  • Trail descriptions
  • The Basics of Traveling Safely in the Alaskan Wilderness
  • Information about large mammals like moose, bear, caribou, and yaks(!)
  • Details on smaller mammals such as beaver, fox, and bats!
  • Birds in the Interior
  • We even have frogs!

The Alaska wilderness is so close,
even “urban” Fairbanks has tons of wildlife

Watch for wildlife in the neighborhoods, between our houses, along the roadsides ~ even in the grocery store parking lots! ~ there’s a good chance you’ll see a moose, or a fox ... some years, even caribou or wolf.

Occasionally the neighborhood watch will put out a telephone-tree warning parents about a bear or coyote sighting (time to bring the kids, cats, and dogs inside!). If you’re lucky, a lynx may wander along if you are around the edges of town in the winter.

Don’t forget to look up. Bald eagles sometimes cruise the skies. More often you'll see Great Horned owls, Snowy owls, and Gray owls, sparrow hawks, ravens, falcons and harriers.

Speaking of birds, you must go to Creamer’s Field. Smack dab in the middle of Fairbanks, it houses the Alaska Bird Observatory and is an amazing wildlife watching location for the Canadian geese and Sand Hill cranes that stop over on migratory flights. Creamer’s is an reliable wildlife viewing option year round.

But, you don’t want to wait for wildlife to “happen by”

Don't get me wrong, it does happen ... urban wildlife sightings are a frequent, even daily occurrence. But it is easy to get on the out of town to the animals’ habitat to enhance your viewing opportunities and your Alaska vacation adventures!

Each of the following links will tell you a bit about the out-of-town trail system or area; the kinds of wild life you might encounter, the distance and kind of hiking, skiing, or cycling terrain you'll experience.

  • The University of Alaska campus on the edge of town has excellent (lighted!) trail system through natural forested areas that are frequented by moose, fox and the occasional bear.

  • The Large Animal Research Facility is also a great place to see "wildlife" and is located at UAF (fondly known as "the Muskox Farm" by locals).

  • The Fairbanks North Star Borough is full of ponds, sloughs, and waterways where you’ll see beavers, river otters, ducks and geese. Of course you’ll stand a better chance of seeing water wildlife if you get out on the water.

  • Chena Hot Springs Road (yes, there are hot springs at the road’s end and they are fabulous!) You'll often see moose while you are there.

  • Chena River State Recreation Area, which is prime moose and water fowl habitat. There are trails such as Angel Rocks and Granite Tors trails, plus campgrounds like Red Squirrel and Rosehip receive plenty of wildlife traffic.

  • Or drive up the Elliott Highway for roadside viewing and visits to Wickersham Dome trails or Minto Flats State Game Refuge.

  • Head north on the Steese Highway to Upper Chatanika River State Recreation Area.

These areas are mostly winter accessible on cross-country skis, snow shoes, or snow machines. And they are great fun for hiking and cycling in the summer! There are some avid cyclists in the Fairbanks Cycling Club who ride these trails in winter. You can rent equipment for these kinds of adventures at several places around town.